An hourglass is a device for the measurement of time. It generally has two glass bulbs placed one above the other connected by a narrow tube. There are many factors that affect the waiting time, and I've noticed that there's only a little amount of sand that can fit through that narrow tube at a time. Not all the sand that's at the top (the past) can move to the bottom (the future) at the same time. Sand passing reminds me of the reality of the postal changes we are all managing though. I can't seem to get all the time I need to do my "due diligence" and development needed to operate with the moving targets of today's postal change.

The latest bits of "sand" include:

Flats Sequencing System: Address Placement requirements effective March 29, bundle preparation, entry point changes and entry time considerations - and what's this talk once more about a future piece of equipment that will combine letters and flats? Oh, and by the way, the address placement has nothing to do with the FSS equipment. It is all focused on the delivery aspect of carrier handling of the flat size mailpieces.

Delivery Route Adjustments: USPS efforts to tighten costs across the organization to streamline the route adjustment process that has led to consolidating deliveries into fewer routes scheduled for February and March. Good management from the USPS that translates to mailer change in list preparation and entry decisions.

Intelligent Mail: Balancing the risks and costs associated with Full Service Intelligent Mail compared to Basic Intelligent Mail - that was the "reality check" identified by a major mail owner in a recent discussion. The IM process is the largest change mailers are navigating since the move from tying bundles with string to heat sealed strap. Thousands of hours and dollars have already been invested by everyone in the mailing business in this dynamic technological advancement.

USPS Price and Eligibility Standards May 11: CPI class level cap increase for market dominant prices of 3.8% and mailer compliance requirements results in evaluating the changes across thousands of different scenarios. Providing the best ROI strategy to the CFO is a daunting task. Is my Flat size mail piece too flimsy, too rigid, address in the right place? Talk about a lot of static! Waiting for the final rule regarding letter-size booklet size pieces has add a whole new dimension to designing mail for lowest postage.

Move Update: Keeping up with another moving target - matching names to USPS identified change of address information and putting the new name and address on the outgoing mailpiece. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast. Mailers have to compare what they are doing to what is being reported through USPS' MERLIN verification reports in another "due diligence" situation of making sense of the calculations and comparisons. Standard Mailers are continuing to question the "crime fits the punishment" assessment of $0.07 per piece in the entire mailing!

Which items should I select to concentrate my resources and efforts on first? In 1895, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered what is referred to as the Pareto Principle or the "80/20" rule." That principle seems to apply to many situations, including discovering the 20 to 30% of projects that will provide the greatest return on efforts - or make it from the top to the bottom of my hourglass. With the bits of "sand" I listed above, there are many, many more I did not include that are all a part of our reality. What if I don't have a choice but have to deal with all of it!

I know I have to reach the right balance if I don't want to continue down Alvin Toffler's "Future Shock" we've experienced this past year the shattering stress and disorientation that is induced in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.' It will be okay if I take the advice of Don Piper in his book, "90 Minutes in Heaven" and resign myself to my "New Normal." I sincerely hope that you will discover your new normal too. Keep turning that hourglass over a time or two as we move from the past to the future in the mailing business.
Wanda Senne is the National Director of Postal Development for World Marketing. She primarily focuses on establishing and maintaining ongoing communications between the USPS and World Marketing, and provides postal training programs for World Marketing and its clients. Contact Wanda by calling 770-431-2591.